August 20, 2012

How Do I Know The Bible is True?

Catechism Readings:  Paragraphs 2012 - 2051

The sections covered this week are on Christian Holiness and The Church, Mother and Teacher.  Compared to last week’s depth, this section is almost a breather.  Much was not new to most Catholics.

A key take-away of the section on holiness is its constant repetition of a key fact:  you must grow in holiness.  It is a lifelong journey, and like any long journey, we may sometimes get a bit lost, or stop to enjoy the scenery.  But the growth, the journey, must continue, and we should not be frustrated that it is not progressing as fast as we would like.  We are reminded to “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).  But “in order to reach this perfection (we must do) the will of the Father in everything, wholeheartedly devoting ourselves to the glory of God and to the service of neighbor.  Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints.” 2013

“Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ.  This union is called ‘mystical’ because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments. 2014  (But) the way of perfection passes by way of the Cross.  There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.  Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes.”  2015

 “In the liturgy and the celebration of the sacraments, prayer and teaching are conjoined with the grace of Christ to enlighten and nourish Christian activity.”  2031  Relative to the Magisterium of the Church:  “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone.  This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.  Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant.  It teaches only what has been handed to it.  85-6  Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me (Lk10:16)” the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.” 87  Here is a key teaching which sets apart Catholics and their Christian brethren:  There is a recognized teaching authority in the Magisterium.  Not Sola Scriptura which each person interprets, but a unified interpretation for believers. 

“The Church, the ‘pillar and bulwark of the truth,’ ‘has received this solemn command of Christ from the apostles to announce the saving truth (1Tm3:15)’.  To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or salvation of souls. 2032  The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are ‘authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice.” 2034 

The next section discusses a much confused doctrine:  infallibility.  “The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility.  This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.  2035  In recalling the prescriptions of natural law, the Magisterium of the Church exercises an essential part of its prophetic office of proclaiming to men what they truly are and reminding them of what they should be before God.” 2036  The conscience of each person should avoid confining itself to individualistic considerations in its moral judgments of the person’s own acts. As far as possible conscience should take account of the good of all, as expressed in the moral law, natural and revealed, and consequently in the law of the Church and in the authoritative teaching of the Magisterium on moral questions.  Personal conscience and reason should not be set in opposition to the moral law or the Magisterium of the Church.” 2039    This last paragraph makes clear that such statements (often heard in our society) as: “Well, that may be your truth, but it is not mine” are individualistic statements of conscience, and the basis of relativism --- the belief that there is no absolute truth.  The Catholic Church emphatically denies such statements, and as this paragraph suggests, they are the result of a conscience not fully considering the revelation of God and the teachings of His Church.

“The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by the liturgical life. (They set the) very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor.  The precepts are:  You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor, You shall confess your sins at least once a year, You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season, You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church, and You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.” 2042

“Q: Why does the Church also make declarations about ethical questions and about matters of personal conduct?  A: Believing is a path.  One learns how to stay on this path, in other words, how to act rightly and to lead a good life, only by following the instructions in the Gospel.  The teaching authority (Magisterium) of the Church must remind people also about the demands of the moral law.  YOUCAT Q344  Q: Why is “not practicing what you preach” such a serious deficiency in a Christian?  A: Agreement between one’s life and one’s witness is the first requirement for proclaiming the Gospel.  Not practicing what you profess is therefore hypocrisy, a betrayal of the Christian duty to be the ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘light of the world.’” YOUCAT Q347

Next week we move on to the section of the catechism covering the Ten Commandments, or the Decalogue, as the catechism often terms them.  The first week covers the overview, and the First Commandment.  

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